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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

A Statue for the Ages

On May 1, 2023, after seven long years, the University of Dayton dedicated the Mary Immaculata statue and her accompanying space, "And Yet It Moves." Located in the lobby of Daniel J. Curran Place, surrounded by tall glass walls, the installation offers stunning views of the Solar Prairie and Old River Park.

The dedication ceremony was a joyous occasion, with dozens of attendees gathering to witness the historic event. Provost Dr. Paul Benson set the tone for the ceremony with his opening remarks, which were followed by a detailed overview of the statue's history, journey to UD and the design of its new home by Professor of Art History Dr. Roger Crum. President Eric Spina’s remarks highlighted the statue's significance as a symbol of the university's Catholic and Marianist identity. Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, the director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives and its online teaching platform, The Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation at the university, was also instrumental in bringing the statue to UD. Along with Fr. Jim Fitz, she read passages from Scripture and Fr. Fitz gave a Prayer of Dedication, blessing the statue and its new home.

Fr. Fitz's words, "We pray that this statue will become a reminder of our own call to continue the mission of Mary, to bring Christ to our world," echoed throughout the room, encapsulating the spirit of the ceremony.

Meanwhile, the statue itself stood tall and proud, weighing nearly 1,000 pounds and towering at 5-foot-6 atop its two-foot tall foundation. Its grace and beauty were apparent from the moment attendees laid eyes on the statue, and its presence commanded respect and admiration.

Despite the grandeur of the statue, there was also a profound sense of warmth and community in the air. Attendees mingled and shared stories of their own connections to Mary and the university, forging new connections and deepening existing ones. The atmosphere was truly one of joy, celebration and reverence.

The Mary Immaculata statue was generously donated to the university by Patti Procuniar, who worked at UD for over 25 years. The statue had been in Patti's family for decades, with her father having won it in an auction from the Normal School building at Mount St. John. With her family's longstanding ties to UD, donating the statue felt like the right thing to do.

“My dad, he loved this statue, and he saved her," Procuniar said. "And so it means so much. And then she stood in his garage for 38 years and my garage five years. And then Dr. Spina got out there to see her and he said 'I want this statue at UD.' So that’s what did it. It’s so moving.”

The dedication of the Mary Immaculata was a significant event that evoked respect, happiness and a feeling of togetherness among the attendees. The statue’s impressive appearance and the history of its arrival at the university will serve as an ongoing source of inspiration for the University of Dayton community and visitors for years to come.

The Institute for Pastoral Initiatives is located on the first floor of Daniel J. Curran Place. The Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation is a premier online-learning platform for adult faith formation, offering 3-5 week courses year-round in English, Spanish and Arabic.

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